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New mobile app on Khmer Rouge history

IANS | Bangkok |

A mobile application on the comprehensive history of the Khmer Rouge has been launched in Cambodia to ensure that Cambodian citizens, 70 per cent of whom are less than 30 years old, do not forget one of the darkest chapters in the country's history.

The free app, developed by the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre, was launched on Tuesday and tells the story of the Pol Pot-led regime since its inception as a Communist guerrilla group in the 1950s, Efe news reported.

Around 1.7 million people died between 1975 and 1979 during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the country from forced labour, disease, starvation and political purges.

The Khmer Rouge disintegrated after Pol Pot died in 1998 in a jungle in northern Cambodia. The app, funded by the European Union and the Rei Foundation, will be presented in 80 schools and 20 universities in October.

The release of the app, only available on Android devices for now, comes at a time when an international court is prosecuting the last two surviving top leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime.

One is the second-in-command and chief ideologist of the regime, Nuon Chea, and the other is its former head of State, Khieu Samphan — both were sentenced to life imprisonment during the first part of the trial in 2014.

The trial was divided into two phases due to the complexity of the charges and fears that the accused, both aged over 80 years, would die before the ruling was delivered.

In June, during the second part of the trial, the Cambodia Tribunal adjourned for sentencing the two leaders, indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity.

The international court passed its first sentence in 2010 against Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, who managed the S-21 prison and torture site, where between 14,000-16,000 people died.

Duch was initially sentenced to 35 years in prison, but the judgement was later changed to life imprisonment.